Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stay Fuzzy Ya'll!

Zachariah OHora is Arcadia's next featured artist. His show entitled, "Help I'm A Rock!" is a collection of work inspired by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. A longtime fan of Mr. Zappa's oeuvre, Zach pays homage to Zappa by juxtaposing his cute, kid friendly painting style with the weird and sometimes ugly nature of Zappa's music. The work is composed of acrylic paintings on recycled wood, and some repurposed thrift store knick knacks.

Sneak Peak of Zach's take on Zappa's album cover by Neon Park: Weasels Ripped My Flesh

If you've been to our Northern Liberties location recently, you've probably seen Zach's The Conversation mobile which is hanging in our men's section and was also featured in the Old City Window Design Contest this past fall. We took some timeout to interview Zach and find out a little about what makes him tick, why he loves bunnies, and what "Stay Fuzzy" means.
The opening reception is next Friday, March 11th. We're also having a trunk show featuring designer Kelly Lane from Pittsburgh. There will be a special drink made by our own Elise Crummie. John Madden Sex Tape is DJing and OH... Johnny Brenda's is catering...mmmmmm can not wait!
The Conversation Mobile

Arcadia: For me, there is so much familiarity in your work; it feels like Richard Scarry’s Busytown meets Barry McGee. Who are some of your artistic influences? What inspires your work?
Seeing your work reminds me of my favorite quotes:
"Everybody can make things with their own hands; it’s just that they can’t be looking for perfection. They have to allow themselves to make mistakes and go with something that might be a little crooked or a little smushed. And people used to go with those things and nowadays those things aren’t beautiful anymore, to people’s eyes. I think it’s the part that’s off that is the most interesting. And even if I spend a lot of time going over the line and over the line, I will never make it straight. And from a distance it might look straight, but when you get close up, you can always see the line waiver. And I think that’s where the beauty is."
— Margaret Kilgallen (Beautiful Losers)
Zachariah OHora: I’ve been a fan of Richard Scarry since I was a kid, he is a huge influence.  I love Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Chris Johanson and that whole so called "Mission School" group.
I aim for something in between, a little cute and fuzzy and a little street.  Ben Shahn, Max Beckman, Roger Duvoisin and Marc Boutavant are also up there. I'm inspired by vintage kids’ books, street art, and old album art. But I find inspiration in all kinds of unlikely places, most aren't art related.

House Party

A: One of my favorite aspects of your work is the fact that everything looks hand painted, we never lose your presence in the work. In an age when almost everything can be done on a computer, what is the importance of painting to you?
ZO: Much of my work starts out as a painting and then gets manipulated in the computer after. I just like the tactile process of painting and you leave yourself open to happy accidents.

Little People- Nesting Dolls

A: Your use of color is also fantastic, I love the muted pastels paired bright and bold pastels and the black outlines. What informs your choice of colors?
ZO: Living in San Francisco for years I think I absorbed the pastel palettes of the old Victorians there. Moving to Brooklyn I absorbed the red brick and muted grit as well as some bolder colors. I'm always trying to simplify my color use, but it always comes back to yellow ochre.

A: Can you tell us a little about your children’s books? How does having children of your own influence your content? Who is Bernard and why does he need to stop snoring?
ZO: Stop Snoring, Bernard! is my first published children's book. It will be out on April 12th with Henry Holt. I wrote that one before I had kids, but subsequent books that I am working on now are influenced by the daily things I see my boys get obsessed with, or the hilarious observations they make about things we as adults don't notice anymore.
Bernard is a little otter whose snoring keeps all the other otters from napping. He is banned from napping with his otter pals and has to find a place to snore without bothering anyone else. You have to read the book to find out what happens next!

A: What is “Fuzzytown?” What does “Stay Fuzzy” mean?
ZO: Fuzzytown is a place where everyone is fuzzy and there are lots of adventures with fuzzy animals. It's a book series idea that I am working on now. Fuzzytown is also a state of mind when things are going well, you have that perfect coffee buzz and the sun is shining. "Stay Fuzzy" is a reminder to try to stay in that frame of mind.

A: 2011 is the year rabbit, is there any significance of the bunnies in your work?
ZO: Bunnies are just the embodiment of cute, and they kind of represent a sort of "everyman" idea. I feel like you can immediately relate to what they are doing, or just be overwhelmed with the desire to squoosh them with hugs.

A: A lot of your work has a very playful and innocent quality to it, how does that work compare to making work with more adult themes?
ZO: I think that playful and innocent and adult shouldn't be mutually exclusive.  I do work from time to time that is of an adult nature but I always try to keep the playfulness in it.

A: After living in San Francisco and New York, how does living in Narberth, PA compare?
ZO: All three places are so incredibly different; I think I went through the same level of culture shock going from SF to NYC as I did from NYC to Narberth. I love Narberth; it has a storybook Mayberry-ness that I didn't know existed outside of some old Andy Griffith show. At the same time, it doesn't have that David Lynch-ian suburban creepiness that I thought all suburbs exuded. And there are a lot of bunnies running around!

A: What are some of your favorite galleries in Philadelphia? And Who are some of your favorite local artists?
ZO: I hate to admit this, but I haven't had much time since I moved here to explore much of the gallery scene. I find myself at Space 1026 or ICA more often than anywhere else.
I like mostly illustrator/artists if there's any distinction anymore… Tim Gough, Kris Chau, Martha Rich, Jim Houser and Steve Powers of course.

In the meantime... check out Zach's website & blog:


PS: I'm stoked so for this show!! Not only do I love cute animals but weirdly enough, I have so many memories of listening to Frank Zappa and The Mothers with my dad when I was little! (not exactly kid appropriate... but that's a different story) ANYWAYS! This show is not to be missed! Hopefully, I'll see you all there!

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